From The Tennessee Star Journal article by Michael Williams, December 25, 2014
A unique new restaurant will open in April 2015 in Pigeon Forge that will bring 120 or more jobs to the area. The new restaurant, Harpoon Harry’s Crab House, is unique in that the interior is entirely custom built using rough cut red cedar, black walnut and cherry wood that was grown on a property in Pigeon Forge.
Harpoon Harry’s is being located in the former Mandarin House which closed four years ago. Transforming the old Chinese restaurant into a world class seafood restaurant was no easy undertaking and an expensive venture.
“By the time we remodel the restaurant and build on the addition, we will invest more than $3 million,” said Ron Evans, a partner in the new enterprise.
The wood used on the interior is cut from Evans’ property on Walden’s Creek Road in Pigeon Forge. The uncut timbers are brought to the restaurant construction site on Community Center Road.
The pleasant scent of cedar hangs in the air of the restaurant. The walls are covered with rough cut wooden planks hewn here on the property with a portable sawmill and cured with a portable kiln which dries out the wood. Professional carver Randy Boni has crafted out more than 60 wood carvings that adorn the interior of the restaurant. Boni has completed sculptures of dolphins, an eagle and bear, mermaids, crabs and many others.
The tables are custom made by Billy Wickey who used thick planks and joined them together to create a table top that sits atop wooden logs in keeping with the local mountain theme.
Contractors are busy installing a large wooden crab above the entrance and removing the Oriental themed façade which featured dragons. Once completed the restaurant will seat 650 diners. The restaurant will feature a bar, a wine room, a sushi bar, dance floor and a stage where local live acts will perform three times a week. Evans said he plans to hire bands that will play country or classic rock tunes. The restaurant will have more than 26,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor dining space once construction is completed.
The biggest addition to the restaurant is the deck and the second floor. The outside deck, which will overlook the Little Pigeon River, will have a stairwell that will take diners to another dining room upstairs. A construction crew is making plans to install an elevator that will take diners to the upper deck. The second floor will have an upstairs bar as well as the same rough cut motif as the downstairs. The menu will include steaks, fresh seafood, spirits and sushi as well as the catch of the day.
The location for the new restaurant has had a history of failure for other restaurateurs. Since 2007, four restaurants have failed at the same location. Evans, a Vietnam War veteran, has 35 years of success in the restaurant business and is confident of success.
Evans has developed a business model for success over the years that he said will make his current venture a triumph.
“I built our company on the principles of good food at a fair price, quality service in a clean and well-maintained environment,” said Evans. “We are building this restaurant for the locals. We want the business of the tourists but we want the locals to be happy first and foremost and we are making great strides to cater to them.”
Evans is expecting the new venture to generate as much as $10-12 million per year in revenues. The grand opening will be held in April.